NEWS10 April 2012

ICO ‘unlikely’ to prioritise prosecution of analytics cookies

Data analytics UK

UK— The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the body responsible for policing EU cookie rules in the UK, has said it is unlikely to prioritise the prosecution of websites that use first party cookies for analytics purposes.

Although analytics cookies are subject to the opt-in consent requirements of the ePrivacy directive, the ICO told The Register: “It is highly unlikely that priority for any formal action would be given to focusing on uses of cookies where there is a low level of intrusiveness and risk of harm to individuals.”

It added: “Provided clear information is given about their activities we are highly unlikely to prioritise first party cookies used only for analytical purposes in any consideration of regulatory action.”

Article 5( 3 ) of the ePrivacy directive requires websites to gain the consent of users before placing cookies on their machines, whereas previously websites only needed to provide the means for users to opt out of receiving cookies.

The new rule applies to virtually all uses of cookies and other trackers – the only exemption being where cookies are “strictly necessary” for the provision of a service “explicitly requested” by the user. This exemption does not cover web analytics and the collection of statistical information about the use of a website, according to guidance previously issued by the ICO.